“It takes a lot of uninterrupted time to develop new sewing patterns, so I try to set aside long blocks in my schedule for pattern development.” – Liesl Gibson Share this quote on Twitter

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Liesl Gibson

What is your morning routine?

My family moved from New York City to Madrid a little over a year ago. Here in Spain, my days start and end much later than they did in New York.

These days I get up at 8:00am to get my daughter to school at 9:00am. It’s a short twelve-minute walk to school, so usually I make breakfast and help her get ready while my husband gets himself ready and takes her to school. (I pick her up in the afternoons, although sometimes we switch roles, depending on our schedules.) Once everyone is out of the apartment I either go out for a run or do a little yoga or ballet. I need to exercise almost every day to feel good. Then I do a little stretching (if I run), take a shower, and, at long last, sit down to work. I focus much better when I’ve exercised.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

It took me a while to find my routine after we moved to Madrid, since I was accustomed to taking the subway from our Manhattan apartment out to my Brooklyn studio. Since I’m now working from a studio one flight up from my home, I needed to find another way to get into work mode, get moving, and not feel cooped up in the same building all day.

What time do you go to sleep?

Never early enough. I try to get into bed by 11:00pm and do a little reading before going to sleep, but I’m really a night person so it’s easy to get wrapped up in something and forget to go to bed on time.

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I tend to wake up really early in the morning (4:00am seems to be my spot), so I listen to a podcast or something to settle my brain and try to get back to sleep again. This restlessness means I need to be in bed for longer than eight hours if I’m going to get enough sleep!

Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?

I often lay out my exercise clothes so I can put them on first thing in the morning. It’s much easier to exercise if you’re already dressed for the event anyway.

Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?

I wear a Fitbit with a daily 8:00am alarm. It doesn’t change unless I need to get up earlier for something special. I wake up when the alarm goes off and, unless it’s the weekend, I’m up right away.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

I try to delay breakfast for as long as possible, which is easy when I exercise but more difficult if I’m really tired or if I don’t exercise. Usually, I try to wait until about 11:00-11:30am, and I’ll often scramble a couple of eggs with a huge handful of baby spinach.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Oh yes. Either a three-mile run or 30-45 minutes of yoga or ballet barre.

We live near a very nice park that I run near or through. It’s on a big hill, so I get plenty of cardio and don’t have to dodge many cars in the process. I listen to podcasts while I run, so it helps me to stay up-to-date on current events and distracts me from thinking too much about how uncomfortable I am. I’m starting to not hate running as a result!

Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?

One of the things I love about living in Europe is that everyone in the United States (where our business partners are located) is sleeping during the first part of my work day. This means I can work without interruption until about 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon, when I finally turn my attention to email requests before everyone else lands at their desks and expects an answer.

If email requires a lot of time, I address it more fully in the evenings when I’m waiting for my daughter’s ballet/flamenco classes or after she goes to bed. It works out really well.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

One of the primary reasons I wear a Fitbit is to remind myself to get more sleep. I need at least seven hours, and I seem to average seven and a half. It’s better than it used to be when I first started our company and found myself working around the clock, since I was also a full-time mother of a toddler at the time.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

Usually right away to check the weather, see how much sleep I got, etc. I might look at email, but generally I don’t address it until later.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

The activities that seem to take up the most of my time are writing blog posts and coordinating projects with some of our freelancers. But it takes a lot of uninterrupted time to develop new sewing patterns, so I try to set aside long blocks in my schedule for pattern development, writing, illustrating, and proofreading, etc.

Often those parts of my job get pushed off to last, which can be frustrating since that’s really the most important thing I do.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

This question made me laugh! So many possible answers… I strictly have water or, occasionally, mint tea if I’m really cold. I love the taste of coffee, but caffeine and I aren’t on friendly terms because it makes me shaky and really hungry. I guess I’m naturally caffeinated.

I try to remember to drink a lot of water right away when I wake up and throughout the day, but that’s about it. I don’t drink much of anything besides water, even at night.

Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?

Weekends are usually more relaxed, since our weekday routine is very structured with my daughter’s dance classes, our joint violin lessons, and Spanish tutoring. We keep weekend mornings very relaxed, though I have been trying to shop at the local mercados on Saturday mornings so we’re ready for the next week.

On Sundays, church doesn’t start until 1:00pm, so we can get a slow start. We often sleep in a bit, and my daughter loves to spend weekend mornings in her PJs, so I’m more than happy to accommodate her.

On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?

It really depends. As I write this I’m on a three-week book tour across the United States, which means I’m on a plane (or two) every two days or so. I’m still exercising as often as possible, but the rest of my time is spent teaching workshops and doing book signings.

In general, travel is disruptive but totally worth it! I’ve been trying to travel as much as I can while we’re in Spain. I get my regular Paris fix and have been exploring as many places as possible.

What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?

There are some days when I just don’t sleep well enough and go back to bed for another hour as soon as my daughter leaves for school. I really dislike those days, though. I feel thrown off schedule and unproductive even though I really need the extra sleep.

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